I love turkey at Thanksgiving, but I wanted to try something a little different this year. Cranberry Hazelnut Turkey Wellington sure fit the bill! I’ve never made a traditional beef Wellington, so I knew this would be a challenge. I love a challenge!
Update 11/8/23: The first time I made this recipe, I was a new food blogger with an old iPhone to take photos and no photography experience. I also didn’t plan the day well, and I was exhausted by the time I finished. The photos were terrible! They didn’t do this recipe justice. I recently decided to give this recipe another try, and I’m posting new tips and tricks under the first review as well as new photos. The original text and review have not been changed.
This golden turkey wellington is a great alternative for Holiday cooking when serving just a few people. So impressive & so easy using frozen puff pastry.
Everything was easy to find at my local grocery store. I couldn’t find fresh cranberries, but fortunately, the recipe said frozen would also work.
See that lovely turkey breast in the picture below? It didn’t come that way. Apparently, most turkey breasts are sold with the skin and bone. I could see the skin, but it wasn’t obvious that it hadn’t been deboned. (No, poking the package doesn’t help to tell if it has bones, trust me.) But Google always has my back, and I found a quick tutorial on how to debone a turkey breast. I had mine skinned and deboned in 5 minutes.
Another thing to note is that the amount of turkey or chicken stock isn’t specified. It says “a few tablespoons”, but I ended up using 12 tablespoons.
My First Try (10/23/17)
I spent a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes on my turkey Wellington. That breaks down as follows:
- Prep and assembly: 40 minutes
- Refrigerate: 20 minutes
- Bake: 65 minutes (20m at 400°F + 45m at 350°F)
- Stand: 10 minutes
It looks like the author only included the prep/assembly and baking times since the total time listed on the recipe is 1 hour 30 minutes. That part was pretty accurate, and I spent 1 hour 45 minutes on prep and baking. I’m also assuming he started with a skinned and deboned turkey breast, which I did not.
The egg wash made the pastry stick together, and turning up the edges and pressing them with a fork sealed the deal, so to speak. I did have a bit of pastry left over, but I opted not to decorate. I’m not that crafty!
My Second Try (11/8/23)
Even though I was re-making this recipe, it felt like the first time since it’s been so many years. I’m happy to say that it’s written well and easy to follow.
Making the Cranberry Hazelnut Stuffing
I started off by thawing the packages of puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator. The package said to thaw them for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator, but there was a good chance I would have forgotten to do that.
The next day I kicked off the cooking with the stuffing. It was a simple recipe that began with browning the bread crumbs in a 5-quart saute pan and then mixing in the rest of the ingredients. I added about 1/2 cup of chicken stock to make the stuffing hold together but not soggy.
Tip: I allowed the stuffing to cool on a sheet pan while I started with the turkey breast. I do remember burning my hands the first time I made this. Spreading out the stuffing on a sheet pan allowed the heat to dissipate quickly, and it was just warm by the time I needed it.
Assembling My Turkey Wellington
Before I assembled my turkey Wellington I lightly rolled out the puff pastry on a floured surface. That made the pastry sheets a little larger and ensured I would have enough left over for the decorations.
Tip: I assembled my turkey Wellington on a heat-proof baking mat so I could easily transfer it to a sheet pan. Once I had the turkey and stuffing covered and the border decorated, I picked up the mat and moved it onto the sheet pan before decorating.
Assembling the Wellington wasn’t too difficult, but it did require patience. I placed the turkey breast onto the edge of one sheet of puff pastry. The next step was adding the stuffing. I began by spooning on the stuffing, but it kept falling off and I was only able to use about half of it.
Tip: I found that if I picked up some stuffing in my hands and pressed it together it stayed put better once placed on the turkey breast. I added the stuffing like this in about three parts and was able to use all of it. There were some bits that fell off but it was less than 1/4 cup’s worth.
Once the stuffing was safely on the turkey breast I covered everything with the second sheet of puff pastry. I pressed the edges together close to the turkey then used a paring knife to cut a generous outline around the turkey. Finally, I rolled and pinched the edges of the pastry together and used the dull side of my paring knife to add a simple decorative border.
Adding the Decorations
Now it was time to decorate! I was looking forward to this part since I skipped it the first time. The recipe says to add the egg wash before decorating, but I waited until a bit later. I wanted to make sure I applied the egg wash to the decorations too, and I didn’t want it to make the pastry soggy.
Tip: Decoration is optional, but it’s not too difficult. The best part is if you mess up, you can roll the pastry dough out and start again or just use another scrap (I had lots left over to use for decorations).
I used my paring knife to cut out a few simple leaf shapes. Then I added a center line and ridges using the dull side of the knife. I used water to dampen the back of the leaves with my fingers and stick them to both sides of the Wellington.
Next, I cut a strip of the pastry and rolled it up. I wet it so it would stick and wove it along the top so it would look like a stem for the leaves. Lastly, I added a small leaf to the curled end of the stem and cut ventilation holes in the pastry.
My much-improved Cranberry Hazelnut Turkey Wellington wasn’t quite ready to cook yet! I slid the sheet pan into my refrigerator for 20 minutes so it could chill while the oven preheated.
Cooking My Turkey Wellington
Once the oven was preheated and the turkey was chilled it was time to bake. I stuck the meat thermometer probe in an inconspicuous place and slid the sheet pan into the oven to bake.
The turkey baked at 400°F for 15 minutes. Then I reduced the temperature to 350°F and let it finish. I never opened the oven, but I did keep a close eye on it through the glass.
It worried me a little that it took longer than the time listed to reach 170°F, but I ended up with a lovely albeit puffier turkey Wellington 1 hour and 5 minutes later.
I was a little sad that the border I decorated was distorted (erased) by the cooking process, but the smell was too good for me to care for very long! A 10-minute rest and a few photos were all that stood between me and an early Thanksgiving treat.
There are a lot of steps to making the pastry-wrapped turkey and stuffing, and I made sure to keep track of them.
- 15 minutes to prep the stuffing
- 10 minutes to cook the stuffing
- 13 minutes to assemble (wrap turkey and stuffing in puff pastry)
- 17 minutes to decorate
- 20 minutes to chill
- 1 hour 15 minutes to prep
- 15 minutes to bake at 400°F
- 1 hour 15 minutes to bake at 350°F and reach an internal temperature of 170°F
- 1 hour 20 minutes to cook
With an additional 10 minutes for the cooked turkey to stand the total time is 2 hours 45 minutes.
The recipe lists 30 minutes to prep, 1 hour to cook, and a total time of 1 hour 30 minutes. As I mentioned in my first post, I don’t think that includes 20 minutes to chill (step 6) or 10 minutes to rest (step 7). Including them in the time listed would make the total 2 hours.
The slowdown seems to have happened during assembly and decoration as well as during cooking. Although I used a 1 1/4-pound turkey breast, slightly smaller than the suggested size of 1-1 1/2 pounds, it took longer than the listed cooking time to reach the recommended temperature. Plus I was very cautious when I assembled the Wellington, and I took my time with that and decorating it. But the results were worth it!